Monday, October 31, 2005

The return of the tethered goat 
The Christian Science Monitor has a useful analysis of U.S. tactics in Afghanistan.

It's nothing new, though. There's no innovation here, really, that I can see. It is simply the application of the same movement to contact doctrine I learned about in ROTC and the Infantry Officer Basic Course, and which we've been drilling my entire career.

One of the tenets of MTC is to make your initial contact with the smallest element you can. That way, you maintain freedom of maneuver, because you are only going to get a small element pinned down. If you do things right, the main part of your force is free to deploy to the enemy's flanks and rear, and in so doing, be in a position to strike a decisive blow.

More commonly, though, when fighting good troops, your sudden appearance on his flank forces him to withdraw. Skilled commanders will not pursue a fight from a position of disadvantage. But that's good, too, because it leaves you in possession of the field of battle. You get to reap a lot of intel benefits that way.

The best, though, is when your initial contact draws the enemy forward, and he leaves his rear uncovered.

There are two commonly recognized techniques of conducting a movement to contact. The first is the "approach march" technique.

Think of the Union and Confederate Armies groping blindly at each other at Gettysburg. The invasion of Iraq itself was one giant approach march technique.

The other is the "search and attack" technique. It's this technique (scroll down in the global security link) which is being used in the actions in the CS Monitor article.

Splash, out


From the comments section... 
This is from an anonymous commentor:

The funny part is when the psyops geeks tried to taunt the Taliban, as it's always funny to hear the world's biggest cowards try to accuse someone else of cowardice, a typical example of what a psycologist would call 'projecting'.

I ask you, has anyone ever seen a more pusiillanimous, cowardly bunch of wretches than the sissyfags of the U.S. "military" who call in air support every time a car backfires or when someone slams a door loudly? They encounter three or four Rebels and instead of fighting like REAL infantry and using fire & maneuver tactics, they instead scream for air support while they're hiding in a shellhole, then after the Air Force flies in and does the killing they "bravely" raise their head up out of said shellhole and proceed to beat their chests about how "brave" they think they are. Disgusting.

Try fighting like a REAL army instead of a bunch of glorified forward air controllers before you start calling an opponent "cowardly", because the whole world is laughing at the U.S. "military" and its aversion to real fighting. Just be glad you're not up against a REAL army, like North Korea's or China's or Iran's because the U.S. "Army" would be a grease spot.

I guess it's a good thing that this ignoramous has gotten a chance to lead such a sheltered life thanks to the sacrifices of others.

It's also a good thing that he doesn't have the courage to provide his own name.

For the record: My own battalion, the 1-124th Infantry Regiment, took more than fifty wounded in and around Ramadi. And we didn't call in a single airstrike.

It's better, anonymous, to keep your mouth shut than to put your ignorance on a stage.

Splash, out


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hurricane Wilma 
Back from conducting hurricane relief operations in Martin and St. Lucie counties, Florida, for the last week. Power just came on in my house this morning, and I enjoyed my first hot shower in over a week.

Taking a bit of a break. I'll write an after-action report for the Florida National Guard, and then post some of the salient lessons learned here.

Stay tuned.


Incompetent coverage at the New York Times 
America has been at war now for over four years. And yet the New York Times editorial staff cannot be bothered to learn even the most basic things about our armed forces.

Here's Jennifer Mascia, demonstrating her rank ineptitude in a profile about a Harlem recruiter in a piece called "Sergeant Guzman's War."

Unlike the Marines, Army infantry and Special Forces, which send volunteers straight from boot camp to the front lines, the Harlem Knights Army unit signs potential recruits up for more than 200 noncombat jobs, everything from laundry and textile specialist to flute player to dental specialist.

Look, you knuckle-sucking morons: You have to be an E-5 promotable or an 0-2 just to get accepted to the Special Forces Q-course. And even if you make it through that course, the MOSQ for Special Forces is a year long. And the basic airborne course is also a prerequisite.

And that's not even counting language training.

"Straight from boot camp to the front lines" my ass. When is the Times going to get someone on their staff who has a clue?

Furthermore, NOBODY goes straight from "boot camp" to the front lines. Everyone goes from basic training to their MOS specialty schools first before they are even a deployable asset. Sometimes the basic training and advanced individual training happen in the same place (it's called "One Station Unit Training," in the Army). But everyone in the Army attends a follow-on school after basic.


Anyone with a four-year enlistment in their past could have spotted that rubbish, and saved the New York Times a bunch of egg on their faces.

If they don't know even the most basic facts about where Special Forces come from, then what else are they getting wrong?

Splash, out


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Let the record show... 
That the Geneva conventions specifically allows for the cremation of enemy dead for reasons of hygiene.

From Field Manual FM 27-10:

Bodies shall not be cremated except for imperative reasons of hygiene or for motives based on the religion of the deceased. In case of cremation, the circumstances and reasons for cremation shall be stated in detail in the death certificate or on the authenticated list of the dead.

The commander on the ground is a lieutenant. Nobody yet has come up with a better idea. What was he supposed to do?

This lieutenant had apparently made an effort to allow the locals to recover the dead. He fulfilled his obligations to the deceased by attempting to make that coordination.

He fulfilled his obligations to protect his men by having them cremated.

Case closed. The chattering classes should cut the LT some slack. And Time Magazine, which failed to do the reporting necessary to uncover the regulations with regard to the disposal of enemy dead in logistically adverse conditions (I found it in five minutes) ought to refrain from speculating on the course of this LT's career until they bother to download a clue.

In fact, they could have been first to the public with the revelation about the legality of cremation in this specific circumstance. Had they bothered to seek enough newsroom diversity to have a couple of veterans on staff. After all, you have to know the jargon before you can google it.

No wonder the media have a credibility problem with troops.

Very unfortunate that CENTCOM doesn't mention this fact in their press release.

Splash, out


UPDATE: The Washington Post totally blows this aspect of the story, too.

And the Administration counterpunches like Teri Schiavo.

Troop rotation and progress questioned 
This commenter raises an entirely valid criticism: If we've stood up 116 Iraqi battalions, then how come the demand for U.S. battalions hasn't appreciably decreased?

I am pleased that the LT reports his unit is having success training the Iraqis.

Still, I am forced to balance that report with this one:

That one tells me that there are now 116 Iraqi ground combat battalions of various states of readiness in operation today. That's a sizeable increase in combat power over the last year and looks like good news.

But - the introduction of those 116 units has not reduced the demand for U.S. ground combat battalions by 1. Indeed, we had to increase our presence to secure the vote last week.

Additionally, enemy OPTEMPO, as measured by number of attacks per week, has increased over the last year.

So I appreciate the LTs service. And I know he believes in what he's doing. But I have trouble reconciling his account with the DoD report and measures of effectiveness you might think would apply.

Oh - and as much as I'd rather not link to the NY Times, there is this: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/22/international/middleeast/22baghdad.html

The answer is above my pay grade, but when has that ever shut me up before?

But one possible answer is to look at the optempo of U.S. units and what duties they are performing. Are Iraqi companies and battalions able to operate in their own cities? Have we been successful in pulling back the profile of U.S. troops in quieter cities?

My sense is that we have, indeed. The Iraqi election security operation was an Iraqi show. Iraqis are now the main effort.

So what's the effect on the battlefield?

Well, U.S. forces are free to concentrate elsewhere and conduct brigade sized operations out West.

Bringing soldiers home doesn't bring victory. Clobbering the enemy where he lives brings victory. The correct way to view the operational picture MAY be along these lines:

The build-up of Iraqi units is not designed, at this point, to bring U.S. units home early. The build-up of Iraqi units is designed to enable Americans to conduct economy of force operations in quieter areas, so we can concentrate on more decisive actions with a focus on a logistical strategy, targeting the enemy's base, rather than on an attrition fight scattered all around Iraq.

The next thing to look at is to define "levels of readiness." An Iraqi battalion may be quite competent at conducting patrolling and security operations at platoon level, but not be ready to conduct more complex operations, such as a raid and deliberate attack, at the company level, much less at the battalion level.

To maintain this capability, you must retain some U.S. presence in a region, sufficiently near to reach out and kill someone when information presents itself. I'm talking, to have boots charging through the door within an hour of confirming the information. Anything slower is too perishable.

American forces are less likely to be infiltrated.

Further, while there may be several competent Iraqi battalions, there are few, if any, truly competent separate brigades, able to operate independently.

Americans don't rotate maneuver battalions. Americans rotate maneuver brigades. The brigade is the lowest echelon capable of operating independently, and of sustaining itself in the field.

Lots of Iraqi battalions don't replace a single coherent brigade. And it is not until the Iraqis can operate in brigade strength independently, anywhere in the country, that we should expect any significant reductions in U.S. maneuver battalions.

Rather, we're seeing Iraqi companies attached to U.S battalions, and Iraqi battalions attached to U.S. brigades. If anything, this INCREASES rather than decreases the level of U.S. troops required at brigade and division level, because the support battalions need to cough up more slice elements to support the transportation, maintenance, medical, and recovery needs of the Iraqi battalions.

So it ain't just a matter of a one-for-one swap of American battalions for Iraqi battalions. When you actually have mouths to feed, things to break, and people to kill, it's much more involved than that.

Anybody with experience at Brigade level and higher feel free to weigh in here.

Splash, out


Friday, October 21, 2005

FEMA emails 
Michelle Malkin's got 'em here.
I don't have time to speculate at length. Busy ramping up for drill and then hurricane duty shortly after.

My first impression is that Marty Bahamonde comes across as a hysterical whiner.

Yeah, everybody does when they're in the fight, and tensions run high. But what exactly was Brown supposed to do? Run around and panic?

All Brown has to do at that point, is make a call of his own. "Hey, bud. Marty's on the ground in New Orleans and he's asking about oxygen, MREs, and water for the convention center. Did we get our hands on some for that area?"

"Yep. Sure thing, boss! It's en route. Should be there early tomorrow!"

"Roger. Ok, thank you."

End panic.

Go have dinner, Mr. Brown. We've got you covered.

The most important thing Brown can do is think, and follow through. He does not have to run around like a chicken with his head cut off, like Bahamonde does, to judge from his unprofessional emails.

And again, the press makes more of this than really exists.

Malkin says that Chertoff acknowledges that Katrina overwhelmed FEMA resources. Well, yes! Nobody disputes that. But that fact is not in and of itself evidence of gross mismanagement.

If anything, it's a mitigating factor. Malkin doesn't seem to grasp that.

It's become fashionable to plunge knives in Brown's back. But I haven't seen any evidence that Brown was anything other than a dedicated public servant who made some mistakes along the way. But he was, and is, far from incompetent.

And he's head and shoulders above Marty Bahamonte, here.

Splash, out


Update: 1LT Murphy, Bushite marrionette, is a registered Democrat 
Proof here (scroll way down.)

I noticed a few inconsistencies with your page. I wonder how I was quoted praising Bush in 2003, when I didn't arrive in country (Iraq) or make any comments prior to December 2004. Some other interesting factoids that your blog missed: I am a registered Democrat. I have voted that way for the past 12 years. Not until my recent deployment have my views started moving over to the right. The reason I support Bush, is because Bush supports all of us over here. We are using the latest and greatest equipment, our families are better protected by a higher death benefits and health insurances, our pay is higher than ever, and the President fixes shortcomings that we tell him about – up armored tactical vehicles....

I'm sorry that the improvements of the Iraqi Army and other Iraqi Security Forces is not as evident to you as they are to me. My unit has logged over 15,000 man hours this year training the Iraqi Army. Our police teams have logged over 6,000. They are getting better at their jobs, we've invested a lot to make that happen.

And yet another infantilizer of soldiers gets his face rubbed in it.

Splash, out


Time for the left to revisit 
what they think they mean when they say "we support the troops."

From an Army journalist in the comments section here:

I go outside the wire all the time. And it's not nearly as bad as you guys are led to believe. The worst thing about it? Feeling like the American public cares nothing for you, that all you are to most people is another number to blame someone for.

Way to go lefties.

The blog post itself is a triumphal expose that one of the soldiers, a 1LT Murphy from the 278th cav, Tennessee Army National Guard, is personally pro-Bush.

So I don't get it. If he's personnally pro-Bush, and has a track record of being pro-Bush and pro-Iraqi, then that pretty much undercuts all the Democratic Underground speculation that what he has to say has been scripted. Why should you have to script someone who you already know is articulate and will agree with you anyway.

These knuckleheads don't know what they're arguing anymore.

If a soldier from the teleconference is found to have been anti-Bush in the past, the left will jump on it as evidence of scripting. If one of the soldiers has been pro-Bush in the past, it's still evidence of scripting.

What morons.

Oh, by the way, apparently, us troops are just "marionettes."

From my correspondent at The Right Side of History:
My comments and/or criticisms in this sorry episode are not directed at the troops at all. I could see why a military man like yourself might take what I said that way but the reality is they’re just doing their jobs. Attacking these soldiers would be like blaming the marionette for the dialogue. If they were “sincere” or not is beside the point. You can not possibly be suggesting that these particular soldiers could have said anything they wanted to say. I simply don’t believe it.

After all, doesn’t “G.I.” stand for “Government Issue?”

Well, pal, you seriously need to get out more.

The fact is that the entire logic of his argument relies on calling U.S. soldiers liars or stooges. That is the only thing he's got going. And it's based on sheer speculation.

Why? Because of the three soldiers who have gone public so far, all three have come out to say they were not scripted, that the ideas expressed were their own. None have come out to say they were inordinately pressured.

Soldiers have some restrictions on publicly criticizing military authority. But when the president asks you a question, the standing order is to give it to him straight, without fear or favor.

The Standing Orders of Rogers' Rangers - still read and memorized by infantrymen to this day - says "Lie all you want to other people about the Ranger. But don't never lie to another Ranger or an officer."

None of us are going to lie to the President. However much this guy wants it to be the case.

When did the Left decide that the way to support troops was to infantilize them?

Splash, out


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Inside Bay Area coverage of Joe Wilson incompetent 
Brian Babcock, a reporter for Inside Bay Area assigned to cover a Joe Wilson speech, is either lying or incompetent to cover his subject:

To read his fellative, admiring piece on Joe Wilson ("he said his decision to tell the truth was not heroic, but what any good American would do." Pardon me while I adjust my blood sugar levels.) the reader would have no idea whatsoever that there was ever any kind of controversy surrounding Wilson's truthfulness. The reader would have no idea that Wilson has been branded as a liar by a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee.

To wit: Inside Bay Area writes:

Wilson, a former ambassador to Iraq and 23-year veteran in foreign diplomacy, told how he had been called a hero by the first President Bush. He was subsequently asked by the Bush administration in 2002 to check intelligence reports that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq for use in nuclear weapons. Wilson's investigation into those allegations showed they were false, a conclusion that other high-intelligence investigators also came to.

Now, the fact that IBA uses the syntax "high-intelligence investigators" ought to tip you off to the fact that neither the reporter, nor anyone on the editorial staff, has ever bothered to do much reading on national security and intelligence matters.

But that aside, the IBA also fails to note that their statement (it's unclear to me if it's being attributed to Wilson or if this is the writer making this assertion), that this is flatly contradicted by Wilson's own report to the CIA.

From the Washington Post:

Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

This reporter failed to do any background research at all on his controversial subject, beyond perhaps calling Wilson's publicist.


Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq -- which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq."

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.

Folks, this isn't hard to find. This is the Washington Post we're talking about. WSJ doesn't show up in Google searches much, but the Post does. The reporter could have found it even faster by taking advantage of hive intelligence resources and using Technorati to search on Wilson's name.

The information that Joe Wilson is an established serial liar is more than a year and a half old. But you'd never know, from the adoring coverage in Inside Bay Area, that anyone ever raised a question about him.

Inept reporting, inept editing, inept all the way around.

Splash, out


Hat tip to Powerline who noticed the WaPo article here.

Dumb as a sack of hammers... 
That's my take on the latest Bush Administration push to evict all illegal immigrants, "without exception."

That's the same sort of "zero-tolerance" thinking that has made drooling morons out of school administrators across the country.

Not to say that immigration policy shouldn't have teeth, but justice should be tempered with mercy.

What happens, say, if someone came to the U.S. illegally 30 years ago, but who has built a business which now employs dozens of legal residents? Shall we throw those legal residents out on the economic ash-heap so we can deport the guy making it happen?

What about the single mother with three or four school-aged children who are themselves American citizens?

You have got to give someone, somewhere, some discretion to exercize common sense. Zero tolerance as a matter of policy is stupid, as is a "no exception" policy. The Administration should stop catering to the xenophobe wing of the Republican party.

Splash, out


Army Mom Graduates at Top of Basic Training Class 
Now I've seen everything!!!

FORT HOOD, Texas – As a mom, a grandmother and an owner of a construction company, Pfc. Terrill Stewart wears many hats. Now one of them just happens to be a beret.

Stewart graduated basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Oct. 14. At 40 years old, she not only graduated, she was selected as the ‘Soldier of the Cycle’ for her company. Her son, Spc. Garret Good -- a driver for the command sergeant major of 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team -- was able to be on hand at her graduation.

Stewart takes the honor very seriously, since joining the Army has always been a goal for her.

“I have always wanted to join the military since I was very young,” Stewart said in a telephone interview. “But I had small children and was working several jobs to support my family. So by the time I really could join, I was 36 and deemed too old by the Army standards to enlist. When I heard that they had raised the age limit for recruits I took that as a personal sign that I was supposed to join the Army. This was the time.”

Congratulations to Pfc Terrill Stewart!

The writer, Pfc Sheena Williams, also does a good job, with a nice, engaging lede.

Good job to both of them.

Splash, out


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Another soldier says teleconference wasn't scripted... 
From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

A Chattanooga soldier now in Iraq with the 278th Regimental Combat Team said soldiers used their own words during comments made last week in a satellite discussion with President Bush.

"We wanted to give President Bush a no-kidding assessment of what we have all been working 14- (to) 18-hour days on for the last 11 months," said Lt. Gregg Murphy, of Chattanooga. "We gave him the God’s honest truth as we know it."

The dialogue was among President Bush and 10 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq last Thursday on the eve of Iraq’s constitutional referendum. Media outlets have called the event staged because the solders went through a rehearsal before talking live with President Bush.

"Staged infers that we were given scripts and that we followed those scripts," Lt. Murphy wrote in an e-mail to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "This is not true. None of the members on the panel used any words that were not their own."

Lt. Murphy said he was chosen to travel to Tikrit, Iraq, for the interview because he had spent the last three months leading an Iraqi army training program at a 278th278th base near the Iranian border.

He said the soldiers got together before the interview and discussed what they wanted to say.

"We shared our different experiences of working with the Iraqi army," he said. "We started brainstorming about what questions the president was sure to ask."

Lt. Murphy said White House officials later told the soldiers President Bush wanted to talk about the referendum and the Iraqi security force’s role in Saturday’s vote on a proposed Iraqi constitution.

"They continuously told us that the president wanted us to explain the situation in our own words in a way that the American public could understand," Lt. Murphy said.

Chattanooga attorney Robin Flores served alongside Lt. Murphy when the two were members of another National Guard unit.

"I'm a staunch Democrat, but if Gregg Murphy tells you it was his own words, then it was his own words," Mr. Flores said. "His word is as good as gold."

Lt. Murphy said time was limited for the interview, so the soldiers selected a mediator and organized who would field each question.

He said the only guidance the solders received was to avoid using military jargon that would confuse the general public and to write out bullet points to keep their comments concise and clear.

And evidence mounts that the chatterati have blown yet another one.

Splash, out


...In which Jason gets raked over the coals! 
I don't get slammed too often in the blogosphere. That's not because I don't deserve to just as much as the next guy, but because bloggers are the biggest whores for confirmation bias on the planet. We tend to link to people who agree with us, and not read blogs from the opposing team.

Well, here's someone from the loyal opposition who did read Countercolumn, and has a few things to say.

1) The entry represents this gentleman’s personal opinion and we are all entitled to an opinion, except, of course, if people like the author allow the current political party to maintain political power. The author’s opinion is, if I am reading it correctly, that the most recent Bush fiasco was OK because “everybody else does it” and the example he uses is the preparations for some kind of corporate pitch and/or board meeting. Of course, the author fails to mention that the “board meeting” he is excusing as bussiness as usual, is a propaganda event whose sole purpose is to convince everyday hard working Americans to keep supporting an Imperialistic War. And I also doubt that CEO’s, before going into board meetings, rehearse “ad-libs” WITH THE PARTICIPANTS. I saw the tape so, the question is “Who do I trust…You or my lying eyes.”

2) It is a complete waste of time.

My own response, which I put in the comments section of his blog, follows:

I think you make several unjustified leaps of logic. Chiefly, you have not established that the soldiers in the piece were saying anything other than their own honest opinions.

Calling their smiles "phony" does nothing to advance that because A.) Even if true, it's irrelevant to your claim, and B.) You are not in a position to know whether those smiles are phony or not.

You also do not know what criteria was used to select these people. As someone who has selected soldiers to appear on similar VIP panels, for example, I do not pick the soldier I can predict, nor do I pick the soldier who tends to agree with me.

I pick the most articulate griper.

A lot of commanders do the same thing.

Third, you have not established that rehearsing the format of the event equals the production of a fraud.

Your choice of argument is an ad homineim attack against the credibility of the soldiers, not a substantive response to the content of their comments. Indeed, the successful elections and the prevention of large-scale attacks during the election actually confirms that their optimistic outlook was entirely warranted, reasonable, and justified, wrt the elections themselves.

Splash, out


An Iraqi Remembers 
This is the account given by Firas Mahmoud Ya'koob, now a doctor, about the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Saddam at the village of al Dujaila:

One hour after the escape of the tyrant, we had to face his anger, I heard the sound of helicopters over our heads wreaking their vengeance upon our small village, backed later with shovels that leveled the trees with the ground, the order was clear(the terror should be great) so that the others would learn...

-The first station in our long journey was Al-Hakimiyah prison that belongs to the intelligence, I found hundreds of my village people, old, young, men, women and children, we were 480 there. Out of whom 80 were relatives of mine.
It was enough to say the word Hakimiyah for any Iraqi to be completely paralyzed(the one who gets in is a missing-the one who gets out is reborn-this was what we used to say about this prison, the walls of which tell thousands of horror stories that you refuse to believe.

I was too young to know why we were treated like that, but I sure knew the meaning of being scared to death. The sound of foot steps that stops by the door was enough for every one to freeze, as after that the door would be opened, a name of one of the men would be announced and he would be dragged to the interrogation room to return few hours later unconscious, covered by blood, wrapped in a blanket, and would be thrown on us.

The women and children had their share, and this is what saw: extraction of nails and teeth, electric shocks, whipping with lashes, using razors to tear the skin into shreds, my aunt was left hanging from the roof after her clothes had been wrapped of her in front of her brothers to force them to talk. Do you know how much pain we suffered? Can you imagine? I doubt it.

We stayed at Al-Hakimiyah for one month, the space was too small for all of us to sleep, some of us had to stay on their feet so that the others could sleep.

-After that we were transferred to Abu-Ghraib prison, where we met the men for the last time, after that, the 143 men separated from us and then transferred to another place, as for the rest of us, we were kept in Abu-Ghraib prison for six months, during that time, the day for my mother to deliver her baby came, she had complications and they didn't take her to the hospital until it was too late, the baby died. my mother never if it was a boy or a girl.

In the prison, 4 people died, my grandfather(Yousif Ya'koob), my uncles wife(Noofa Hasan), the old man(Abdul Wahab Ja'far) and his wife (Sabreya), after that we were transferred to a camp in the desert, near the Iraqi-Saudi borders, 400 kilometers south-west to Baghdad(Leeah camp).

We spent four years there.

At the time of his imprisonment, Yakoob was seven years old. He was imprisoned with his mother, who was four months pregnant, and with his two sisters, ages five and three, and his younger brother, age one.

Hat tip: Smash

I got an email from Soldier's Angels last weekend. It's a charity where you can sign up to adopt a soldier or a unit and send care packages and other assistance to soldiers deployed overseas.

Having been on the receiving end of some of those packages, sent by total strangers, I can tell you that they mean the world to the soldier or marine or airman or sailor overseas. Yeah, they have better PX support than in those lean days of summer 2003. But just getting something in the mail to open is like mannah from the heavens. Believe me, no gesture goes more appreciated than the gift of mail or a care package from back home. Mail is magic.

Anyway, Soldier's Angels emailed me asking for help. They appreciate all the support they've recieved in the past, but demand is much higher going into the holidays. And in order to get ready for the holidays, they need to raise money now.

Countercolumn doesn't have a tip jar. In lieu of a tip jar, please making a donation to Soldiers' Angels, or one of the other charities listed on the sidebar to the right today.

Soldiers' Angels sends care packages overseas. The Army Emergency Relief Fund and the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Fund takes care of their families back home. And IraqKids.org takes care of the people we're doing this for: Our future allies, the children of Iraq.

Don't delay. Don't wait until the holidays. These charities need money BEFORE the holidays, in order to put your gifts to work during the holidays. Please make your donation today.

As an additional feature, Countercolumn will be donating all proceeds from the Amazon Associates program through December 25th to the Army Emergency Relief Fund and the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Fund.

So when it's time to do your Christmas shopping, or when you just want to send a book or DVD or CD (or anything else) to a loved one overseas, please stop by and use the Amazon link here.

The more you use it, the bigger cut I get to donate to these charities.

Please click, and give, and make a difference.


Hurricane Wilma 
Just recieved my formal battalion warning order ten minutes ago.

We've been working through contingencies and implied tasks for the last couple of days, though, both at company and battalion levels, and I've already spoken with most of my element leaders.

Blogging will be very light, and may become nonexistent for a little while, as I get busier. Exact timeline is still to be determined. A lot depends on what happens with the Keys. That really affects the timeline.

Assets are already in motion, and email accounts and phone lines are abuzz.

A special thank you to employers of Guardsmen!

Thanks for reading and for your patience.


Ramadi Airstrikes 
The word from Ramadi is that the hit on the muj was a clean kill.

I did not provide terminal control of these aircraft but I know the man who did. The squadrons have emailed us the footage from the attacks. You can see the insurgents with weapons. Please trust me when I say it was a clean kill and many believe this attack might have adverted a major strike by the insurgents. These aircraft were "Cleared Hot" by men on the ground who deal with the insurgents day in and day out. The warriors on the deck and the warriors in the air worked as a team to ensure the safety of real civilians and the destruction of these terrorists.

Looks like we had eyes on these guys from the deck, as well as the air. (I think I know how, but I'll just keep that to myself. :-) )

Splash, out


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Toppling Saddam was "a mistake" 
Here is a small taste of what kind of man it was whom the Left would like to have left in power.

The operational and strategic picture in Western Iraq 
Bill Roggio has an outstanding infographic up on his site here:


It's really a shame we don't get this from traditional media outlets, who are so caught up in the play-by-play they forget to look at the scoreboard.

Roggio's grasp of the difference between a sweep operation and a clear and hold operation is key - and it's an aspect of the conflict that traditional media outlets have across the board failed to understand.

Watch the graphics. Watch how the red blips - representing towns in which coalition forces could not keep a robust security force on station to combat the insurgents - turn blue. The blue blips don't represent sweetness and light. But they do represent towns where pro-Iraqi forces have taken ground, are consolidating gains, and are now developing their own human intelligence networks with which to take the fight to the enemy at the time and place of our own choosing.

This does not mean that fighting will end tomorrow. The blue blips don't mean guerrilla resurgence is impossible. The insurgents can elect to concentrate their forces anywhere they think they can get to.

But it does mean that they will have to try to do so, and to consolidate and leave a healthy footprint in areas where Iraqi forces have set up increasingly strong and credible intelligence networks of their own, and it will be increasingly difficult for insurgents to concentrate in strength, undetected. Out-of-towners, especially foreigners - stick out like sore thumbs in Iraqi neighborhoods, and every time they try to gather 100 people or so to pick a fight they run the risk of exposing themselves.

For this reason, the pressure on insurgent leaders to localize the fight - to limit themselves to troops and weapons available locally - will be powerful, which will cramp his ability or willingness to attempt to concentrate in force they way he was allowed to concentrate in Fallujah.

It will also force them to rely increasingly on less secure means of communication, and will slow down his optempo. More and more security forces are becoming available to conduct traffic control points of the sort that nearly snagged Zarqawi, and forced him to abandon his laptop a few months ago.

These checkpoints can of course, become targets of attack themselves. But their increasing frequency must interdict the flow of cash and ordnance into Iraq, and will make long-range movement of same difficult and risky.

Coalition forces may be challenged in the cities. But the insurgency cannot challenge them on the desert highways, where coalition firepower and air mobility can be brought to bear. The coalition will seek to force the insurgent to duke it out in the countryside in order to move supplies and cash to their operatives in the country's interior, hundreds of miles from the Jordanian border.

The insurgent will, for his part, be tempted to confine his activities to close to the Syrian border. Trying to do otherwise forces him to run a gantlet of TCPs between Syria and Ramadi or Baghdad. Local insurgents in these areas may be largely cut off from Syrian support.

Syria has the power to cut the insurgency off at the knees. The most delicate game in town is the one to entice Syria to do so, while maintaining a credible stick with which to beat the crap out of him if he does not.

This will potentially pose some interesting policy questions for the US, as Syria could potentially offer to help crackdown on border movement with Iraq in exchange for us turning a blind eye towards their support of terrorism in Lebanon, Israel, and Golan/West Bank. Syria may try to drive a wedge between the US and Israel in this fashion.

Do we take him up on it?

Tough call.

But Bill Roggio's grasp of the significance of political and police gains in these locales is critical to understand.

Splash, out


Doom on you, motherf****r: The Ramadi Airstrikes 
The Washington Post has some coverage of the recent airstrikes near the city of Ramadi.


The facts are always hard to ascertain. And doubly hard to ascertain when you're circling a mile overhead at 300 mph.

But the optics available on modern fighter jets are sophisticated enough now to do some impressive things, and the modern fighter aircraft is now refined enough to be a valuable real-time intelligence-gathering and firepower resource on the counterinsurgency battlefield. I know because I've seen them used in that very capacity. (Nevermind just how!)

Whether they are a cost-effective resource in the routine combat patrol role in a guerrilla fight is another question. But they are valuable in that they can simultaneously provide eyes-on, real-time intelligence, and deliver enough firepower to destroy a good-sized house within seconds.

A helicopter cannot deliver the same immediate punch, though it can call for artillery fires. But that will take a few minutes, and by that time the cockroaches may well have scattered.

I suspect the truth is somewhere between the military's official account and those of the civilians in the area. I have no doubt noncombatants were killed, and that's tragic and I hate that. All of us do.

I also have no doubt that we must kill the insurgents where they are. And if the people choose to allow those insurgents to live among them, then they will pay the price.

That's not to say I'm insensitive to civilian casualties. Every measure must be taken to minimize civilian casualties. But giving the insurgents a free pass to plant IEDs that themselves kill civilians, because we will not attack them where they expose themselves, is simply not an option.

The force must be proportional. We will not drop a daisy cutter on an urban apartment complex to kill two guys holed up inside (a rocket through the right window will work fine). But if we find these cockroaches, we will kill them.

The Iraqi people understand that.

If the military says they're confident that 70 insurgents were killed in airstrikes in an urban area, and that it knows of no civilian deaths, well, that just defies credulity.

But if 13 insurgents were among the dead - as confirmed even by civilian sources in Ramadi, then them's the breaks. An entire squad or light platoon sized element is going to draw some firepower. The best thing Ramadi citizens can do is call the coalition and let us know where they're staying so the place can be raided, or hit with smaller ordnance.

And if 20 men were caught red-handed planting bombs in craters, then that's a whole platoon, and hitting them with whatever ordnance is available on the spot is a no-brainer. And the civilians should have engaged them, or called the police and gotten out of the way. If they were open enough about it for them to be seen from an F-18, they were open enough about it for local civilians to know what was going on, too.

And if the insurgents were bold enough to operate like this right in their neighborhood, then they were getting at least tacit support in that very neighborhood (remember, this wasn't the first IED attack there. They were there just a few days ago, and the neighborhood didn't stop them), then the people in the neighborhood must bear the responsibility for their own apathy.

They know who the bad guys are. If they don't stop them, then we will have to.

These weren't local punters, either. The Ramadi hospital is confirming that 13 of the dead were members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. This buttresses the pilot's account (He counted 20. It might have been 13, or it might be that some civilians were misidentified. It's probably not the case that 70 Al Qaeda got out of five vehicles, unless they dressed in clown suits.

Whether to bomb the house of a noncombatant who had offered to open his house to wounded insurgents seeking medical care is an interesting question. Presumeably, we had some intel suggesting that was the case. I'm speculating here, but chances are good, in my view, that local Iraqis or allied forces had given this guy a chance to turn informant, and he refused.

Doom on you, motherf****r.

There's no way that his supporting the insurgency in other ways could be ruled out, and medical care is freely available from coalition forces and from the Ramadi hospital. Maybe Ramadi hospital will tip coalition forces and maybe they won't, but that is a calculus for Al Qaeda's commanders to work out.

Al Qaeda exhibits no qualms whatsoever about violating the law of land warfare. The U.S. need not stoop to their level, nor need the Iraqis. But neither should Al Qaeda expect the least bit of quarter.

It's two dogs in a pit, at this point. And we're the bigger dog.

Doom on you, motherf****r.

Splash, out


UPDATE: The NY Times is reporting that the insurgents were spotted rolling artillery shells into the craters at 1:30 pm. That means the insurgents had no qualms about operating in that neighborhood in broad daylight, in the same spot as the attack last weekend that killed 5 soldiers. That's chutzpah. That's also pretty damning evidence that this neighborhood itself was complicit.

If these guys were there trying to do this in the dead of night, I could cut the neighborhood some slack. But these people made their bed. They can lie in their bloodsoaked sheets.

I remember driving through the area just east of Ramadi a couple of times a day. Where the kids in other neighborhoods would smile and wave, the kids in this neighborhood would wave their sandals at us in the Iraqi version of the finger. This is along Hwy 10, just east of the arches, for those few readers who know the real estate.

It was not in the 1-124's sector. The area just north of that was largely in our sector, though, and is called the Sofia district. It is known to be a very rough area, and word was that even Saddam's security forces were afraid to go in there. The area was patrolled and regularly fought over by our Charlie company, and the area was host to near nightly mortar attacks on Combat Outpost, which was home to Charlie Company and about thirty guys from my own company.

The area around the arches west of Ramadi was a regular site for IEDs during our tenure there, and some of the wounded from those engagements were treated by our medics. Some of them, from the 1-16th, I think, never made it out of our aid station. Our medics don't like to talk about that much, but it happened, and it hurts.

I'm not terribly sympathetic to that neighborhood's complaints.

I also never met an 8 year old who deserved to lose her life.

Addendum to previous post 
Some are speculating whether Judy Miller had a secret clearance.

If she did, and it turns out she deliberately tipped off a muslim charity and terrorist money laundering suspect to a pending raid, then she is should have her guts pulled out by the roots and hung from a Justice Department flagpole.

Splash, out


Here's an open letter some journalist trade group sent to the NY Times 
It was also posted in Jay Rosen's Press Think:

I am one of an informal group of more than 100 national and international journalists and media professionals who take their profession seriously, and who are angered at the decay of the press. We come from all walks and companies of the profession from McGraw-Hill and Dow-Jones to trade magazines you have never heard of. And we are angry.
The Times was our ideal, and you failed us.
The Judith Miller affair, and the Times’ handling of that issue has confused many and angered others. As a result of recent events, we no longer trust the Times to tell the whole truth, or even part of it, least of all about itself. And we are journalists – in theory, your comrades.
Given the hobbled stories in the October 16th Times and earlier issues, we no longer trust the Times to report honestly or fully on itself. Van Natta, Liptak, and Levy have our sympathy.
It is obvious that your investigative reporters were handcuffed, that they were forced to accept no answers, or partial answers to important questions, that the cooperation of Judy Miller was partial at best, and that Miller’s notebooks are a poor excuse for those of an earnest reporter. By our standards, Miller could easily be a writer of fiction. Certainly her period of martyrdom in jail appears—at worst—self inflicted.
For decades, we in the journalistic community and the rest of America, have looked to the Times for, if not the whole story, at least an honest review of the facts at hand.
Now, we see yet another case where not only are the facts questionable, but one in which the paper appears to have spun the story to protect its image.
Or did you do so to protect access to sources? If so that compounds the crime.
For years now, as all this has unfolded, the Times’ image as a source of bona-fide information has decayed. I omit Jason Blair and the other failings of recent years; you know the list better than I.
The point is this. For a century the Times fulfilled a key role in American discourse. It was thought to be the honest broker of information, regardless of party. Today, with the Miller affair, Iraq, missing weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi politics, and the recent grand jury inquiry, the Times has shown that it cannot be trusted to cover an incumbent administration honestly. Nor can it honestly cover issues in which its staff is involved. And for that reason, it can no longer be considered America’s premier newspaper.
Bluntly, we don’t trust you any more, and we are journalists ourselves. Your co-religionists no longer believe in you.
The journalists in this group, and there are many – some work in your own city room – no longer trust the Times. I wish it were otherwise, but you have failed. By protecting yourselves and the Times brand, you have injured all of us and made the prospect of a national shield law unlikely.
Given the importance of an informed electorate, the Constitutional protection provided to the press, and the responsibility that goes with it, many of us writers and reporters are preparing to get to the root of the Times’ failure. “Woodstein” will probably be ahead of us, but we will dig and contribute. We have sources, too.
I hope you notice that there is no partisan aspect to this note. We are Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives. What we share is respect for journalism, the truth, and the First Amendment. Rather more than the Times, it would appear.
We take the role of the Fourth Estate in a democracy seriously. And unless the Times visibly renews its commitment to this, the consequences for the nation will be serious. And for the Times, dire.

And the long, slow descent of the NY Times continues.

For the record: I am personally agnostic about the whole Miller/Plamegate thing. I honestly don't feel like I had a dog in that fight. The honorable thing to do, perhaps, would have been for Miller to resign from the New York Times when she could not cooperate with the journalistic investigation. Her loyalties at that time were too divided.

I do not fault her for faulty WMD reporting, even though it has become fashionable for journalists at the NY Times to do so. This is their own bias coming into play. The problems with Miller's reporting could only be clear in hindsight. Anyone who has problems with Miller's reporting now and who was silent about it in 2002 and 2003 is guilty of selective memory syndrome.

No reasonable effort by any reporter could have debunked the information she was getting from multiple reliable sources at the same time. Any responsible reporter given the same access would probably have come to the same conclusion Miller did regarding WMDs in Iraq.

Now, a lot of people are gunning for Miller's head. But they're all lefties. Why? Plamegate is not the reason. It's a tempest in a teapot. The press lets much more sensitive information slip on a regular basis and the lefties don't have a problem with it.

The lefties are simply sharpening their knives to get back at Miller over the WMD reporting.

The Plamegate fiasco, to me, is a nonstory. It's increasingly apparent to me that no crime was committed, that Wilson's credibility was a legitimate issue, and his connection to a CIA spouse was germaine to Wilson's credibility.

It was fair game for any reporter.

Was it fair game to leak? It might have been scuzzy, but no crime was committed. Welcome to D.C., This is the big leagues. They pitch fastballs inside. Wilson thought he had some heat. Turns out there was a lot more heat in the opposing team's dugout.

Meanwhile, while the navelgazers at Press Think are obsessing over the Miller nonstory, they're missing the far, far more significant story of the debate over the potential shield law, and whether shields should include bloggers (Actually, I prefer the term "microjournalists"), and whether we should have a shield law at all.

Personally, I would oppose such a shield law. I expect all of us to be subject to the same laws.

Splash, out


Monday, October 17, 2005

MSNBC is still stuck on stupid 
Though it's par for the course.

The breathless headline, of course, reads exactly what they were hoping the memos to show in the first place:

FEMA in Chaos at Start of Crisis, Memos Say.

The only problem, of course, is that beyond the usual uncertainty and the fog of information that ALWAYS accompanies a complex, multi-agency logistical endeavor in a degraded communications environment, the memos say no such thing.

Here's what we have:

1.) One local director complaining he's not getting what he requested from FEMA. (God save us from subordinate commands getting less than what they requested from higher. Of course, it NEVER happens anywhere, right?)

2.) We have an aerial evacuation that actually got underway SOONER than the FEMA director thought would happen. Now, if it were the other way around - if the FEMA director thought planes were rolling and they weren't, you might have a beef. In this case, you don't. Someone got their act together locally and executed. Maybe he should have informed higher. Or maybe, (more likely), he informed the local EOC and they bottlenecked the information. Or he may have emailed an update to Brown and Brown hadn't checked his email yet. Believe it or not, execs don't command by email.

At one point in time, some FEMA guy in Mississippi didn't know where Brown was physically located. Well, welcome to the real world, gang. Brown gets around, and he probably has better things to do in a crisis than send Carwile a 10-digit grid every 20 minutes as to his physical location. This is hardly indicative of an agency "in chaos."

3. FEMA needed supplies and asked Florida to help. This, to the idiots at MSNBC, is indicative of an agency "in chaos." I'm sure an agency that was NOT in chaos would not have gotten around to asking for anything? Just how in the world does that work? It's pretty obvious that this reporter hasn't tried to do anything complicated in his life. Apparently, in his sheltered existence, nobody ever makes the sausage. The sausage just IS.

4. There were a couple of emails from a FEMA deputy chief of staff critical of pressure to bring in someone from outside the agency. Wow. Imagine that. A bureaucrat defending his turf. This is in no way indicative of an "agency in crisis."

5. As further evidence of FEMA being "an agency in chaos," MSNBC breathlessly reports...drum roll, please...that Michael Brown, at one point, worked on a staffing organization chart.

The horror.

Oh, the humanity.

As a final coda, the article closes with an accusation that Brown and FEMA may have been concerned with how they are treated in the media. The irony is rich when the media create these media-driven feeding frenzies, and then criticize officials when they express concern about how they are presented in the media. I mean, who created this media environment in the first place? It sure as hell wasn't Michael Brown.

The article closes with an account of Brown congratulating his subordinate on a good job he did in a press conference. What was the reporter trying to accomplish? Is Brown never supposed to give an employee a pat on the back, now?

Are we criticizing Brown for watching the news? Because we were sure criticizing him for NOT watching the news, when he mentioned that he was unaware of any evacuees in the convention center, despite extensive coverage of same on CNN.

Look, snarkiness is fine when there's something to be snarky about. When there's nothing to be snarky about, it just comes across as petty.

MSNBC is still stuck on stupid.

Jesse Taylor gets a job! 
He's leaving his leftie moonbat blog Pandagon to go help Strickland lose his gubernatorial campaign as "Director of Online Communications."

I'm sure he'll be very useful in helping Strickland get the 28% of the vote he'd probably get anyway.

Splash, out


Dave Johnson wishes we would just shut up and die. 
Dave Johnson, the proprietor of a liberal blog called Seeing the Forest, has taken up a crusade against (mostly conservative) milbloggers.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have the candlepower to carry the argument through. For instance, he rails against Blackfive:

The military is supposed to protect and defend the US constitution, be under the authority of civilian government - even when the government is Democrats - and be completely neutral politically. Your site mocks that concept.

Sorry, Dave. You don't even have your weapon oriented down the right range. BlackFive isn't even currently in the military, and as such isn't subject to the UCMJ.

Second, while the military is a politically neutral institution - as it should be - individuals within the military are not, and are under no obligation to be. Individuals within the military are free to register with any political party, write, op-ed, blog, opine, and otherwise exercise their first-amendment rights to their hearts' content, provided they do not violate opsec, associate their own views with the official views of their branch of service, or be flagrantly and openly critical of the chain of command, in such a way as to be prejudicial to good order.

In other words, Dave, we're not automatons, any more than Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were automatons when they served, regardless of whether you believe we should be.

Rather, soldiers are, indeed, members and citizens of this great Republic, and should and do have a legitimate voice in public discourse.

Sorry that voice is so inconvenient to you.

Mr. Johnson doesn't stop on his own blog. He also visits Dadmanly's blog comments and Blackfive's as well - where unfortunately he impales himself on established falsehoods which undermine his credibility so severely that it is difficult to take him seriously on anything related to the military or to the war.

For instance, according to Johnson's demented scribblings, Iraq was a terrorist-free area before the war.

He also can't figure out, after more than two years, whom we are at war with in Iraq.

He also continues to harp on the nonsequitur that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, as if that was equivalent to Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda (when indeed the commissioners of the 9/11 report readily concede that there were "all kinds of ties" between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

Actually, later in the thread, Johnson makes the breathtaking claim that "we are not at war" in Iraq - and thereby establishes himself as someone who is simply not to be taken seriously by serious observers of the war.

Splash, out


Sunday, October 16, 2005

New York Times Op-Ed: Conservatives have given up on traditional news 
The piece itself is behind the TimesSelect firewall, so it's not having the resonance it should.

Here's the piece as exerpted by TimesWatch.org:

Later Tierney notes: "A lot of young conservatives and libertarians have simply given up on the traditional media, either as a source of news or as a place to work. Instead, they post on conservative blogs and start careers at magazines like The Weekly Standard and Reason, knowing these credentials will hurt their chances of becoming reporters for 'mainstream' publications -- whereas a job at The New Republic or The Washington Monthly wouldn't be a disqualifying credential."

Splash, out


Armando at Daily Kos opposes democracy 
You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried, folks.

Here's Daily Kossack Armando on the recent Iraq referendum:

This Constitutional process, as was, the January election, was a terrible mistake and harmful to the stability of Iraq.

Your knee jerk applause for this, and no doubt you applauded the January elections, is mindless in my view.

What do you think the result will be?

Iraq does not need empty gestures - it needs a plan for stabilizing, securing and reconstructing the country.

The process that was undertaken PREMATURELY has harmed Iraq, not helped.

The cynicism is yours. The lack of thinking is yours.

If this comment seems harsh it is because attitudes like yours or just the problem. Think for a moment before you stsate such an opinion.

An election means nothing if it does not lead to governance and security.

The point is that the occupying power - an occupation I strenuously objected to through my opposition to this disastrous war - had to set the conditions for nation building - not rush willy nilly to empty electoral gestures.

You see, the problem is the ILLEGITIMACY of the process as perceived by the Sunni.

To pretend, as you do, that this process gains legitimacy in THEIR eyes is precisely the follishness I object to.

There is NOTHING different today than there was yesterday.

This is a sham. And will lead to nothing good.

And here's one of the true liberal followers at Daily Kos:

I'd clean up Saddam, give him a new suit, and hand him the keys back. That'd be the end of Islamofascism there. We might be glad to have a simple, nasty, brutal and worldly dictator in charge again.

So might a large number of Iraqis.

Get the troops out now!

Thank God almighty these people can't win elections.

Splash, out


There's a phishing scam going around now targeting PayPal customers. I got it on my IraqNow account, so it may specifically target bloggers.

Phishing is an Internet scam in which a criminal sends out an email purporting to be from a legit company, and providing a link to a sham website. The target of the scam is urged to provide confidential information, such as user names and passwords, credit card numbers, etc., in order to prevent an interruption of service. The criminal then uses this information to commit identity theft and raid your bank account.

This particular scam is quite obviously a fake if you know what to look for, but it's one of the better fakes I've seen. Heads-up.

You can help combat this fraud by reporting phishing attempts to the AntiPhishing Working Group, at www.antiphishing.org.

There's all kinds of interesting information on their site.


Paris terror cell had Zarqawi links 
See what staying out of the fight gets you, you losers?

Now will you help us get this guy?

Splash, out


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Eeyore strikes again at the New York Times 
Who else but Eeyore the Editor, on this historic and overwhelmingly successful day, could write something like this?

The mood on the streets of many Iraqi cities, even in Shiite areas, appeared markedly less enthusiastic than on Jan. 30, when millions of Iraqis braved an onslaught of violence to cast ballots and celebrate in a vast outpouring of pro-democratic sentiment.

On Saturday in Baghdad, streets were noticeably bare of pedestrians, polling centers were less busy, and voters exhibited little enthusiasm.

Talk about tunnel vision! Talk about missing the forest for the trees!

Last January, there were 347 attacks on the Iraqi people on election day. Yesterday, there were 13.

And all the Times can do is recycle the "no water, no power complaints." Well gee. Who's fault is it they don't have power in Baghdad today?

If the Iraqis walked on water tomorrow, the New York Times would be criticizing the U.S. for not teaching them to swim.

Splash, out


A curious omission in the Miami Herald 
Strange Women Lying in Ponds notices something missing from today's Miami Herald.

Financial Friendly Fire 
The Washington Post has a story about attempts to keep wounded troops from getting hit with unjust debt for lost equipment, etc.

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities.

The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack.

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.


"This is a financial friendly fire," charged Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, which has been looking into the issue. "It's awful." Davis called the failure systemic and said military "pay problems have been an embarrassment all the way through" the war.

Commanders, use those reports of survey!

I wrote about some tangentally related issues here, back in 2003.

Alert commanders and first sergeants can take a lot of the sting out of the debt repayment issue, if a soldier is GENUINELY overpaid, by saying "look, eventually they're going to start taking your pay out. You're going to get everything you were supposed to get. But don't spend the money you WEREN'T supposed to get!"

But when soldiers are wounded, they usually leave their own commanders and NCOs and are attached to medical holding units who don't know them as well.

Some debts genuinely should be recouped. We owe it to the taxpayer. But commanders should have some leeway on forgiving some administrative debt based on the circumstances of the individual soldier. The battalion commander level makes sense to me.

Equipment lost in combat in the course of an action in which the soldier is wounded can and should be written off, in SOME cases. It IS the responsibility of the soldier's squad leader and platoon sergeant to recover weapons and other sensitive items when he's being prepped for a medical evac. He needs to keep his helmet and flak jacket on in most cases, and so these expensive items leave the control of the company commander. If they are surrendered at some point, or become lost, neither the soldier nor the company commander should be held liable. These are legitimate combat losses.

It's not entirely clear to me that these losses are a significant fraction of the debt in question, though. It seems to me to be largely recoups of genuine overpayments.

It's a pain in the ass, but I don't see any cause to get our panties all bunched up over this. The Army seems to be taking steps to get ahead of the curve, albeit belatedly.

Payroll is one of those things that is easy to yap about, but very tough to do. And payroll is unique in that some very major issues are resolved by keystrokes by very junior soldiers. It's not unusual for me or my admin NCO to call pay branch to try to resolve a soldier's pay issue, and find that the entire company's payroll is handled by a private first class.

It doesn't sound like a great thing, but what ELSE is a finance unit gonna do with a pfc? The key is good communication, and some NCOs and officers on both sides of the transaction who look out for the soldier and the Army and the taxpayer together, and who can make balanced decisions.

Splash, out


The Dutch won't extradite a terror suspect... 
Because of human rights abuses in America.

A Dutch court on Wednesday blocked the extradition of a Dutch terror suspect to the United States, saying his legal rights in U.S. custody could not be guaranteed.

The man, who is of Egyptian descent and was identified only by his initials M. A., is wanted on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, apparently to help the al-Qaida terrorist network. He has been in custody in the Netherlands for around eight months.

The ruling by the Hague District Court said the suspect's "fundamental right" of unlimited access to a defense lawyer and immediate access to a judge may be compromised in the United States.

Last month, the court sought guarantees from U.S. prosecutors that the detainee would be afforded those basic rights if he were extradited. In Wednesday's ruling, it rejected a U.S. submission that "the United States views such a request as unwarranted and unnecessary."

The ruling is a setback for efforts by the two countries to strengthen trans-Atlantic cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The Dutch Justice Ministry, which had already approved the extradition, said it was studying the decision and could not comment in detail.

"We are considering ways to advance the case. We don't rule out an appeal," said spokesman Arnaud Strijbis.

The court also ordered the government to pay the defendant about $1,300 to cover his legal fees.

Maybe we can just get them to euthanize him.

Splash, out


50 million purple fingers and counting... 
The election in Iraq seems to have had an even better turnout than last time. And terrorists - yes, CNN, terrorists - have failed to significantly disrupt the election.

I noticed Wolf Blitzer and his Situation Room crew on CNN yesterday afternoon breathlessly lamenting the attack on a power line into Baghdad yesterday, which cut off power to some 70 percent of the city, as if it were the second Tet Offensive.

Saboteurs have been attacking Iraqi power lines at least since July 2003. I know because I used to see what they did on the highway that led between Ar Ramadi and the highway that leads up to Haditha and Al Qaim.

They would send someone to climb the towers and attach hooks or ties, and then they'd use trucks to pull them down. They did this all the time, and were occasionally successful in disrupting power to the city in so doing.

Big deal. We can't even keep the lights on in Los Angeles, Wolf. Have a little perspective.

I'm sure the terrorists would have liked to disrupt communication among security forces, and I wondered if the terrorists would follow up their limited success with an offensive in Baghdad that WOULD have the potential to disrupt the elections.

They did not.

The only reason I can think of that they did not is that they no longer have the combat power to do so in Baghdad. They seem to be able to operate in significant formations near what is obviously their base of support in Syria, but they seem to have been reduced to banditry and terrorism in Baghdad.

This is terrific news. I am curious to see some more detailed reports from al Qaim and Haditha, where the insurgency is strongest at the moment, and from Fallujah.

The excellent Bill Roggio - whom I don't link to often enough - has more.

As does Chester. Who reports that turnout in Tikrit is estimated to be 78 percent.

That's a lot of "no votes."

It's also, to my eyes, a sign that the Ba'athist insurgency is finished. It failed to even make a serious attempt to disrupt the election on its own turf.

That or they think a heavy turnout can result in a "no" vote. But even that would be a victory for democracy in Iraq.

Iraq the Model has the local-yokel poop:

It is really amazing how things have changed in Iraq; three years ago Saddam “won” 100% of the votes in a pathetic referendum that he designed in order to give legitimacy to his reign while yesterday even security detainees were allowed to express their opinion on the constitution through voting and the government and parliament are almost begging the 15 million plus voters to say ‘yes’!
And although many signs indicate that the document is on its way to be ratified, no one can say it is until the people decide which checkbox to tic tomorrow.
Some people would say “Is that all you won, after more than two years of war and violence? That’s only one basic right” well, that is the point; we’ve secured one key right that can help us secure the rest. [snip]

The turnout in our district looks quiet good and actually going to the voting office was a good opportunity to meet some friends I haven’t seen in months.
I met one friend on the way and when I asked him what would his vote be he said that he hasn’t decided yet “if I voted yes I would be approving some articles that I don’t agree with and if I voted no we would go back to where we started from…” he said and that was really refreshing because this guy who used to believe in conspiracy theories and stuff like “what America wants is what’s going to happen” now feels that his vote can make a difference.

He also reports through his own sources that turnout is light in Erbil, as Kurds are disappointed in some of the concessions made to lure Muslim Sunni to the polls.

But if turnout in other Sunni areas is as heavy as it is in Tikrit, I think the forces of democracy just delivered a strategic body blow to the terrorists. Once Sunnis vote, and see that their votes are counted, they are going to want to vote again. The last minute concessions, I think, were a good gambit. In the long run, the Iraqi people will gain much more from legitimate Sunni buy-in (as evidenced by the decision of the most prominent Sunni political party to drop its opposition to the constitution) than they gave up on some smaller details. If the Sunni buy in, then Shia and Kurd autonomy become less of an issue.

Zayed resurfaces for the first time since March, and simply reports "I voted against."

Riverbend posts today as well.

The referendum is only hours away and the final version of the constitution still hasn’t reached many people. Areas with a Sunni majority are complaining that there aren’t polling stations for kilometers around- many of these people don’t have cars and even if they did, what good would it do while there’s a curfew until Sunday? Polling stations should be easily accessible in every area.

This is like déjà vu from January when people in Mosul and other Sunni areas complained that they didn’t have centers to vote in or that their ballot boxes never made it to the counting stations.

Well, Riverbend, Sunni areas will get exactly the number of polling stations they are able, with available security forces, to secure, and no more. Since Sunnis boycotted the last elections, and since so many Sunni looked the other way as Al Qaeda slaughtered policemen and ICDC and ING forces last year and the year before, and since so many Sunni clerics exhorted the people not to join the security forces that would now be helping to secure polling sites in your neighborhoods, then it seems to me that your Sunni community made its own bed.

Splash, out


One of the soldiers in the teleconference blogs about what really happened. 
Here he is:

It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

Now, as a former reporter myself, I believe in the old saw, "if your mother says she loves you, check it out."

This blog isn't a ringer. It wasn't cooked up by PR flackes to cover for the president. It has archives dating back to April. And he shows up in the AKO White Pages, as a member of HHT/278th Armored Cav, which is a Guard Unit out of Tennessee, if I recall correctly.

This guy's legit. Hell, the AKO system even provides a phone number stateside.

Tomorrow morning, the Iraqi people will vote on their constitution. The success of our mission or the mission of the Iraqi security forces is not defined by the outcome of that vote. If the people of Iraq vote this constitution down, that only means that the FREE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is at work in Iraq. They are learning to voice their opinions in the polling stations, not through violence. If it is voted down, they will have the chance to draft an even better version; One that may better serve the people of Iraq. This is up to them. It is history in the making and I will not let the media or anyone else (who has not spent more than two weeks here) tell me otherwise. I have been here for almost a year. I have seen the progress made in so many ways from January's elections to this referendum. Don't tell me what the Iraqi people can or can't do. They will tell you with their VOTES!

Stage this, bucko.

Splash, out


Via Instapundit.

Media military cluelessness in history 
Here's a damning account of media fecklessness, arrogance, and incompetence in assessing claims of Gulf War Syndrome. It was written way back in 1997 by Michael Fumento.

Here's Fumento's description of how he tried to get to the bottom of a soldier's claim that he had some very unlikely symptoms: He vomited flourescent yellow every day for years "like chemlight fluid" and had lupus, as a result of his experiences in the Gulf War. Fumento talked to his doctors, who said that none of their patients had ever displayed those symptoms.

Here's how the press reacts to someone checking their work:

What exams could Hanchette possibly have been referring to? I politely called Hanchette four times just to say I wanted to talk about his story. He didn't call back. I called twice more to say that I had reason to believe he had engaged in unethical conduct and that I wanted to give him a chance to respond. He still hasn't called back.

So I called Hanchette's editor, Jeffrey Stinson. In defending his reporter, Stinson noted twice that Hanchette was a Pulitzer winner, called my questions "a crock," and said he really couldn't comment further without seeing the relevant material. I faxed over Martin's testimony, Hanchette's write-up, and a list of questions. Stinson's response: "Our stuff is good; it's accurate. You're full of it, pal. Bye." Then he hung up.

Read the whole thing. It's a telling tale of how the media can be led astray because they're too often only half-educated, and lack critical reasoning skills necessary to assess the validity of sources on medical and military stories.

Splash, out


What's staged? 
Heh. Now THAT'S staged!

Ask about ABC's Ford Pinto, and NBC's Audi.

The fact is that the networks have a long and sordid history of actually rigging cars to explode on camera with igniters, in order to make for compelling staged TV footage with which to highlight their exposes.

An isolated lapse? Consider the Emmy-winning 60 Minutes segment in March 1981 revealing how the most common type of tire rim used on heavy trucks can fly off, killing or maiming tire mechanics and other bystanders. Again CBS relied on film from the Insurance Institute, this time showing an exploding rim shredding two luckless dummies, an adult and a child. Such footage, said Mike Wallace, "shows graphically what can happen when a wheel rim explodes." Insurance Institute spokesman Ben Kelley (who had also appeared on the Jeep segment) explains that a truck tire is under enormous pressure. "And if that metal, for any reason, dislodges, it fires off like a shell out of a cannon."

Again, 60 Minutes did not see fit to tell viewers exactly why the metal happened to dislodge in the film clip. It turned out that, according to the Insurance Institute, the rims had been "modified" to get them to explode for the demonstration.

Well, actually, the rims' locking mechanism had been deliberately shaved off for the test. Under questioning in a later deposition, an Insurance Institute employee acknowledged that the testers had to go back and shave off more and more of the metal in stages before finally getting off enough of it--an estimated 70 percent-that the rims would explode.

Should 60 Minutes have to give back its Emmy? Nah. Maybe they can just take the statuette to a machine shop and have 70 per cent of it filed off. Then they can keep the rest.

Now that's staged.


NO CATALOGUE of this sort would be complete without an account of 60 Minutes's 1986 attack on the Audi 5000--perhaps the best-known and best-refuted auto-safety scare of recent years. The Audi, it seemed, was a car possessed by demons. It would back into garages, dart into swimming pools, plow into bank teller lines, everything but fly on broomsticks, all while its hapless drivers were standing on the brake -- or at least so they said.

"Sudden acceleration" had been alleged in many makes of car other than the Audi, and from the start many automotive observers were inclined to view it skeptically. A working set of brakes, they pointed out, can easily overpower any car's accelerator, even one stuck at full throttle. After accidents of this sort, the brakes were always found to be working fine. Such mishaps happened most often when the car was taking off from rest, and they happened disproportionately to short or elderly drivers who were novices to the Audi.

The Audi's pedals were placed farther to the left, and closer together, than those in many American cars. This may well offer a net safety advantage, by making it easier to switch to the brake in high-speed emergencies. (The Audi had, and has, one of the best safety records on the road.) But it might also allow inattentive drivers to hit the wrong pedal.

60 Minutes was having none of the theory that drivers were hitting the wrong pedal. It found, and interviewed on camera, some experienced drivers who reported the problem. And it showed a filmed demonstration of how an Audi, as fixed up by, yes, an expert witness testifying against the carmaker, could take off from rest at mounting speed. The expert, William Rosenbluth, was quoted as saying that "unusually high transmission pressure" could build up and cause problems. "Again, watch the pedal go down by itself," said Ed Bradley.

Bradley did not, however, tell viewers why that remarkable thing was happening. As Audi lawyers finally managed to establish, Rosenbluth had drilled a hole in the poor car's transmission and attached a hose leading to a tank of compressed air or fluid.

The tank with its attached hose was apparently sitting right on the front passenger seat of the doctored Audi, but the 60 Minutes cameras managed not to pick it up. It might have been for the same reason the Jeep weights were tucked away in the wheel wells, rather than being placed visibly on top. Or why the Dateline rockets were strapped out of sight underneath the truck rather than conspicuously on its side, and were detonated by remote control rather than by a visible wire. Doing it otherwise would only have gotten viewers confused.

Yep. These bastards do it all the time.

Too bad the Bush press office couldn't counterattack if they were assaulted by a slug in a paper sack.

Splash, out


Thursday, October 13, 2005

You could just feel it... 
You could just feel how badly the media wanted to believe the President's videoconference with 10 U.S. soldiers was "staged." And dammit, if the media wanted it to be staged, then staged it will be.

WASHINGTON - It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

Of course. And I have an agenda, distributed in advance, listing what I want to talk about when I hold a company level training meeting. These guys understand that. I understand that. The AP, apparently, doesn't. I guess none of their reporters ever interviewed a source and told them what they were interested in discussing.

And just one question: "hailed" by whom?

Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering — how often do we train with the Iraqi military — who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit — the hometown — and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?" she asked.

Well, think about it, for a second. The President wanted to talk to people who were knowledgeable on these three specific subjects. Wouldn't a prudent advance person want to get the mic to the right person smoothly in case the subject comes up?

Of course she would.

Does that mean that the soldiers' comments were insincere? No. There is no reason to believe anyone was up there lying. But that is what the AP would like to imply.

The president told them twice that the American people were behind them.

"You've got tremendous support here at home," Bush said.

Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll taken in October said they approved of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just over half of the public now say the Iraq war was a mistake.

Ok, but what percentage of the American people favor an immediate pullout, you dolts? Isn't that the most relevant stat here? What percentage of the people oppose the troops? (In reality, the answer is more than anyone on the left wants to admit, though still a small minority of the population.) The AP, however, is Hell-bent on undercutting the president, here (and basically giving the troops a snide and subtle "fuck you" in the process), but what they are really giving is poll numbers that reflect support for the President. Not support for the troops.

Most editors I wrote for as a Time Inc. wretch would have caught that, and never let me get away with it. Not so at the AP I guess.

Oh, and here's the scuzziest bit of all:

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

If Operation Truth is simply "an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan," then I'm the Queen of Sheba. Their website says they're "nonpartisan." But look who's doing the fundraising: Randi Rhodes, Jenine Garofolo, Al Franken, Air America, and Tim Robbins.

This reporter is remarkably uncurious about the sources she seeks for comment.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."

Yeah. I guess we're all idiots. None of us know what's going on about anything. Actually, there could not have been more than 4 captains, since only five of the ten were officers, and one was a lieutenant. The remainder were NCOs. Yeah, I guess NCOs never talk to troops either.

Some advocate.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Check out the morons in the discussion board! Some of them are calling for the officers and NCOs who participated in the conference call to be reprimanded and discharged.

Yep. That's support for the troops alright, leftie style.

So what's Counterpunch up to? 
Why, referring - without irony - to Iraq's terrorist cockroaches as "The Iraqi National Resistance," that's what. And then, having romanticized the orcs that blow up school buses and bomb Red Cross buildings and set off bombs next to children, accuses the President of being "out of touch."

By the way - Counterpunch is edited by noted leftist columnist Alexander Cockburn.


Splash, out



Countercolumn News Ticker 
Democrats accuse troops in videoconference of being obsequious bootlickers...

Bush: Troops helping to "defeat a backward, dark philosophy with a dark philosophy that's hopeful...

Area leprosy support group meeting ends in acrimony, finger-throwing...

Nation defers to Ted Kennedy's vast war planning experience...
Senator possesses special expertise in amphibious operations...

New York Times: Soldiers "less than smooth." (I wish this were satire, but that's what the New York Times really did write! Look, we're soldiers. Not anchormen. We don't like cameras, and we're susicious of people who do.)

Bankok Post 
The Bankok Post's editorial page is optimistic:

As controversial as the Iraq war has become around the world, it is easy to lose sight of the extraordinarily good news that has emerged from that country and battleground. The first was the downfall of one of the world's most heinous dictatorships. Saddam Hussein killed his people, bullied his small neighbours and threatened his large ones. The other is the widespread and enthusiastic way in which Iraqis have grasped democratic choice. This weekend, they will once again go to the polls to make the decisions that will decide their country's fate. When Iraqis vote _ or abstain _ tomorrow on a constitution hammered out in a remarkably short time, they will be doing something none of their Arab neighbours do. Several major Sunni organisations still were debating this week whether to vote or boycott. By contrast, about 5,000 members of major Islamist student groups in Egypt held protests to demand a free vote, on anything. The arguments and debates over the proposed Iraq constitution during the past several weeks have been passionate, opinionated and peaceful.


It wasn't very long ago that Gail Collins, a disaster in her own right, was calling for the postponement of the Iraqi elections last January - a move that would have cost the United States and the cause of liberty a ringing moral victory.

Thank God we didn't listent to the New York Times. And it should stand as a source of shame to the Times that a Bankok daily has more faith in us than they do at the Times.

Splash, out


Is it real? Or is it satire? 
YOU make the call!

Dateline: Mulan, China. John Snow, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, touring the village in Sichuan Province to promote "financial modernization," urged China on Thursday to take lessons from the United States on how to spend more, borrow more, and save less.

CNN absolutely breaks its back trying to avoid the use of the term "terrorists."


Is this the same organization that committed the Beslan massacre? The same guys that took over that theater in Moscow? Are these the same people who used to blow up apartment buildings in Moscow? What's the connection, if any?

This is obviously a violent Wahabbist organization. Is CNN aware of any reason we should NOT consider them terrorists? They don't say, one way or another, although local Russian officials seem to think so.

They're operating in at least company strength...and I'd say more likely battalion strength or even higher here. If 60 get killed, there's probably 500 more who get away.

If they're being "chased" by Russian helicopters, that's a good sign. The Russians have them in the open where they can bring firepower to bear.

But why is CNN making such a show out of avoiding the term "terrorist?"

Lastly, look at the very last sentence, which, by way of lending "context" and "perspective," reads simply: "The Wahabbis are a sect of Islam."

Nothing more.

This is what passes for journalism and reporting.

Splash, out


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